Monthly Archives: April 2019

52 Before 62 – #7  Meet John Doe (1941)

Poster - Meet John Doe 01.jpgDirected by Frank Capra

Screenplay by Robert Riskin, from the story by Richard Connell

Starring Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, and Walter Brennan

Frank Capra was inarguably the most successful director in the early years of the Oscars, at least as far as winning awards were concerned.  He won Best Director three times,[1] the first man or woman to win three awards total, was nominated for Best Director three other times,[2] and saw two of his films win Best Picture.  On top of this he led the propaganda unit of the U.S. Military during World War II, making films in the Why We Fight series, winning an Oscar for Best Feature Documentary for his troubles[3], bringing his career haul to four.  But more important than critical acclaim, and the appreciation of his peers, his films tended to be financially successful, which is the only metric Hollywood ever put any stock in. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 – #6 Seven Men From Now (1962)[1]

Poster of the movie Seven Men from Now.jpgDirected by Budd Boetticher

Story and Screenplay by Burt Kennedy

Starring Randolph Scott, Gail Russel, Lee Marvin, and Walter Reid

After his wife is killed in the robbery of a Wells Fargo gold shipment, the prideful former-sheriff Ben Stride (Randolph Scott) gives chase of the thieves, driven to revenge mostly by his own guilt at his wife working as a Wells Fargo clerk in the first place.  One-by-one Stride kills the men, meeting a wife and husband travelling to California (Gail Russel and Walter Reed) along the way, and also running into an ex-con Stride once put in jail (Lee Marvin).  Together they make their way along the trail, each with a different agenda than the other, bound only by a common destination.  In the end, Stride has his revenge, returns the gold to Wells Fargo, and puts aside his pride to take the job as a deputy to the man who replaced him as sheriff.

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52 Before 62 #5 – Titanic (1953)

Titanic 1953 film.jpgDirected by Jean Negulesco

Written by Charles Brackett, Richard L. Breen and Walter Reisch

Starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton, Harper Carter, Thelma Ritter, Brian Ahern, and Richard Basehart

The R.M.S. Titanic has a rather interesting cinematic history.  Direct depictions of its sinking appeared almost as soon as the ship went down, with Saved from the Titanic, starring an actual survivor, released on May 14, 1912, less than a month after the ship sank.  To be fair, the film was only ten minutes long, so compared to other, epic-length film versions of the vents, this one could be done in a flash.  Besides, they didn’t do releases of film in 1912 the same way they do today, where they go out on 3000+ screens.  No, a release in those days could conceivably be just one print, in one theater. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 – # 4 Call Northside 777 (1948)

Callnorthside777.jpgDirected by Henry Hathaway

Screenplay by Leonard Hoffman and Quentin Reynolds

Starring James Stewart, Richard Conte, Lee J. Cobb, and Helen Walker

Jimmy Stewart had a career.  Started out in the 1930s as a sort of everyman in light comedies and Frank Capra films, with a natural charm accentuated by gangliness and height.  Played a couple romantic leads, an idealist or two, won an Oscar, then took five years off to do his part in World War II.  When he returns, he suddenly seems to favor darker material – It’s a Wonderful Life, Rope, and Winchester 73.  Now and then he gives a glimpse of his old ways, popping up in Harvey, bio-pics like The Glenn Miller Story, and the ultra-frivolous, The Greatest Show on Earth, but no matter what else he did, it’s that cynical streak of films he took with after the war that defines Jimmy Stewart for us today. Continue reading

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52 Before 62 – #3 The Horse’s Mouth (1958)

The Horses Mouth poster US.jpgDirected by Ronal Neame

Screenplay by Alec Guinness, from the novel of the same name by Joyce Cary

Starring Alec Guinness, Kay Walsh, Renee Houston, Mike Morgan, Robert Coote

Who doesn’t love an artist?  Everybody does, at least in some sense.  Why else would we listen to music, and watch movies, and read books, if we didn’t love an artist.  Or, at least love their art, which is arguably an extension of the artist.  Which means I guess I have a little love for Mel Gibson being a shitbag, because I’m genuinely okay about his movies.

But, boy do we love movies about artists.  Or, at least people love making movies about artists.  On just visual artists alone – painters and sculptors – there’s Rembrandt, Lust for Life, The Agony and the Ecstasy, Basquiat, F For Fake, Pollock, Crumb, Frida, Big Eyes, Girl with the Pearl Earring, and more.  Many more. Continue reading

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